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Gary Trent Jr.'s shot from beyond the arc will be a key for the Blue Devils going forward.

X Factor: How can Duke bounce back from its loss at Boston College?

With a long break for final exams off since Duke's last game, an upset at the hands of Boston College, No. 4 Duke will return to the court Wednesday night to take on Evansville at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Zone looks at a player who could be the difference-maker in the game for each team:

Duke: Guard Gary Trent Jr. 

Coming off a tough loss in their opening ACC matchup, Duke will be looking to build back some confidence in  its matchup against the Purple Aces. Against Boston College, star freshman Marvin Bagley III fell silent in the second half, leaving a gaping hole that the Blue Devils struggled to fill. But despite the setback, one player who shone bright for the Blue Devils was Trent. 

Although Duke has relied on size and athleticism to dominate in the paint, the Blue Devils are sorely lacking in production from outside the perimeter. That’s where Trent comes in. Behind just Grayson Allen in total 3-point field goals for the season, the freshman sparked Duke's offense against the Eagles with 25 points—18 of them  from beyond the arc. If Trent can find a rhythm with his outside shot, the Blue Devils will be able to keep their opponents spread out and on their toes.

But unfortunately for Duke, finding that rhythm hasn’t always been easy for the freshman guard. Trent has shot
just 35.6 percent from deep this season—largely due to an eight-game stretch of making just 9-of-41 attempts from beyond the arc. Although Trent has shown considerable improvement in his last two games, the Blue Devils will hinge going forward in part on Trent's ability to shoot from deep. 

Evansville: Guard Blake Simmons

With a roster without a player taller than 6-foot-9, Evansville couldn’t be a more polar opposite matchup for Duke. The Purple Aces pride themselves on speed and shot-for-shot accuracy, making up for a lack of size with confidence on the perimeter. And spearheading this sharpshooting squad is none other than Simmons.

After redshirting a year due to injury, the Newburgh, Ind., native has exploded back on the court with an average of 12.3 points per game. While shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 54.2 percent from long range, Simmons’ accuracy has been instrumental in leading Evansville to a 10-2 record overall.

 Although the Purple Aces have yet to take on a team at the same caliber as Duke, Evansville’s style of play could prove to be dangerous for the Blue Devils if left unchecked. Duke has struggled this year in defending the perimeter, with four teams notching double-digit figures in 3-pointers, including Boston College, which finished 15-of-26 from long range. If Simmons can remain unfazed against the Blue Devils’ size, Duke may find itself in yet another game that feels a bit too close for comfort.

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